Closing Vt. restaurant serves its last meal to the homeless

MONTPELIER, Vt. (WCAX) A Vermont restaurant on Tuesday closed its doors for business but opened them one last time on Wednesday to serve a community in need. They served a free lunch to the homeless and disadvantaged people of Montpelier. Our Lance MacKenzie has the story.

Wednesday marked the start of a new year, but the end of a popular business in Montpelier. Down Home Kitchen's final day served a community in need, the homeless and those living on the fringe of society.

"The decision to close the last day of December coincided with the need for a meal on New Year's Day," said Mary Alice Proffitt, the owner of Down Home. "The downtown homelessness task force came to me and they said the churches cannot provide a daytime meal on New Year's Day, would you be willing to do it?"

The customers say meals like this that serve their need for social interaction.

"It helps with my social anxiety. So I can meet people and make new friends," said Taggert Gile of Montpelier.

"I would say 70-30, meaning the socialization would be 70, the meal would be 30. Because the meal is just to feed my stomach but the socializing is more. It's more of a... feeds the soul," said Darlene Colby, who lives alone.

Proffitt's Southern-style soul food on New Year's Day was certainly appreciated. But the social nourishment it provided is even more important.

"Keep being a good influence on each other. It takes a village to raise each other," said Nicholas Janes of Montpelier.

"I suffer from mental health stuff, so it's one of those, it's hard for me to work. It's hard for me to find a job," Gile said. "And that's where it gets difficult."

Difficult, but perhaps a bit easier on Wednesday. Proffitt gave an appreciative community a good meal and a place for healthy conversation one last time.